This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.
'Love Hurts' gives us a fairly standard monster of the week episode, with a little Valentine's Day flavour thrown into the mix for fun.
Initially believing that they are dealing with a shapeshifter who is transforming into peoples lovers in order to kill them the Winchesters soon discover that they are actually dealing with a Qareen, a type of Jinn that tear people's hearts out.
In a more family friendly version of the plot of 'It Follows', the Qareen is being used as a cure, being passed on to each new victim with a kiss. Once it has killed its latest target it works its way back down the chain to the person who started the chain. Yes, it really is that similar to 'It Follows', but it's also a hell of a lot more entertaining and engaging than the 2014 film, and not only because it's Supernatural ('It Follows' was just dull throughout, despite some interesting things it tried to do).
When Sam and Dean figure out what is going on Dean kisses the Qareen's latest victim, placing him at the end of the chain and it's new target.
At this point I expected that the Qareen would change to assume the shape of Amara (which it did) and that Sam would see this and the connection between Dean and Amara would be out in the open. Instead, the writers took a bit more of a mature route for the characters. Sam never saw the Qareen as Amara, but when he asks Dean what form the Qareen took Dean tells him the truth.
Dean goes on to tell Sam that despite wanting to stop Amara, despite the fact that he wants her dead, whenever he's around her he can't help but feel love towards her. He tells Sam that when the final showdown comes he's not going to be able to help. Sam tells Dean that he understands and doesn't blame him in any way.
Thank god! I thought that this was all being set up to be another secret that blows up between the two of them to add 'drama', instead the characters handle it with a level of maturity that they've rarely shown before. Dean stops keeping his 'big dark secret' and Sam takes it all in his stride. Rather than using this moment to push the two of them apart they say 'okay, you can't fight Amara, so let's figure out a new approach'. It's refreshing and something that was definitely needed 11 seasons in.
It also deflates a little tension from the fact that the Lucifer possessed Castiel knew about this connection. Yes, he may still try and use this against our heroes at some point in the future, but at least he can't hold this knowledge above Sam's head as some kind of weapon anymore.
A fairly enjoyable stand alone episode that played a small part in the overall series arc and showed some of the growth and maturity of the Winchesters.